The Russian Army Launched Its Largest Tank Assault of the Russo-Ukrainian War – and Got Annihilated

Photo Credit: Defense of Ukraine / Twitter
Photo Credit: Defense of Ukraine / Twitter

Over the weekend of March 30-31, 2024, the Russian Army launched its largest tank assault of the Russo-Ukrainian War. With a force of 48 tanks and armored fighting vehicles, the aim was to inflict a devastating hit on the Ukrainian forces. In actuality, they were the ones to suffer a defeat, with one-third of the group involved being annihilated.

Wreck of a BMP-2 in the middle of a field
Remains of a destroyed BMP-2 near the road in the village of Dovhenke, Ukraine, 2024. (Photo Credit: Eugene Hertnier / Global Images Ukraine / Getty Images)

The massive assault was launched on March 30, in eastern Ukraine, near the devastated city of Avdiivka. This was somewhat unusual, as the majority of action in the region had centered around foot soldiers, who up until that point were without tanks.

The mass of Russian vehicles from the 6th Tank Regiment, 90th Tank Division – consisting of 12 BMP infantry fighting vehicles and 36 tanks – made its way down a road, which runs between the villages of Tonen’ke and Uman’ske. As @OSNITau, a drone operator with the Ukrainian 36th Marine Brigade, explained on X (formerly Twitter), this was the largest amassing of armored vehicles by the Russian Army since the beginning of the conflict.

As could be expected, a large group like this was hard to miss, and the Ukrainian 25th Airborne Brigade wasted no time engaging the Russians. Depending on the source, the total number of enemy vehicles that were destroyed varies, with @OSNITau claiming eight BMPs and 12 tanks were lost and the Ukrainian Defense Ministry stating that only four tanks and two BMPs were taken out.

@OSNITau had just two words to describe what occurred: “Pure madness.”

While it’s currently unknown how the Ukrainians took out a third of the armored vehicles in the group, Forbes has theorized that drones were used to locate the group, after which an artillery barrage took place. Footage that has since been released shows the tanks being blown up one-by-one in explosive fashion.

Writing on March 31, 2024, the Institute for the Study of War explained the situation as it knew it, saying this was the first time since attempting (and, later, succeeding) in seizing Avdiivka in October 2023 that the Russians have put together a mechanized assault:

“This appears to be the first report of any elements of the 90th Tank Division participating in assaults following the Russian seizure of Avdiivka and ISW previously assessed that elements of the 90th Tank Division, alongside other Russian units and formations, likely represent a sizeable uncommitted operational reserve that the Russian military command can commit to continue and intensify efforts to push west of Avdiivka.

“The elements of the 6th Tank Regiment appear to have failed in their March 30 attack near Tonenke, however, suggesting that elements of Russia’s uncommitted operational reserve near Avdiivka may be too degraded or otherwise unable to lead further Russian advances westward in the short term.”

The institute added that the Ukrainian paratroopers’ ability to repel the attack “is a positive indicator for Ukraine’s ability to defend against future large-scale Russian assaults and the expected summer 2024 Russian offensive operation.”

What remains of a house in the middle of a rubble-strewn area
Destruction in Uman’ske, 2024. (Photo Credit: Narciso Contreras / Anadolu / Getty Images)

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The Russian Army has not commented on the incident, nor is it clear how many Ukrainian service members or vehicles were lost.

Clare Fitzgerald

Clare Fitzgerald is a Writer and Editor with eight years of experience in the online content sphere. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from King’s University College at Western University, her portfolio includes coverage of digital media, current affairs, history and true crime.

Among her accomplishments are being the Founder of the true crime blog, Stories of the Unsolved, which garners between 400,000 and 500,000 views annually, and a contributor for John Lordan’s Seriously Mysterious podcast. Prior to its hiatus, she also served as the Head of Content for UK YouTube publication, TenEighty Magazine.

In her spare time, Clare likes to play Pokemon GO and re-watch Heartland over and over (and over) again. She’ll also rave about her three Maltese dogs whenever she gets the chance.

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